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July 14, 2016

Holes (2003)
Director: Andrew Davis
Actors: Shia LaBeouf, Khleo Thomas, Jon Voight

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Synopsis: Stanley Yelnats (Shia LaBeouf) is sent to a detention centre in Texas for a crime he didn’t commit. While digging holes there, his family history merges strangely with his present situation.

Review: This Burtonesque slice of Southern whimsy works much better on the page – it’s a lighter American version of the magical realism genre – than it does on screen where its events unfold arbitrarily and seem less organic. Where in the source novel the shifts in chronology to seemingly irreverent detours are charming and have an overarching screwball effect, in the film, the flashbacks to the founding Kissin’ Kate Barlow and Elya Yelnats mythologies appear rushed and lack the necessary undercurrent of pathos which is supposed to be informing the story’s present day dilemmas.

To be fair, in recruiting the story’s source author, Louis Sachar, Holes got a literate screenplay which manages to signpost most of the novel’s key plot points. It’s just that there’s a fundamental inertness about the landscape of a movie which is essentially a boy digging holes in a bland desert scape  although the fantastical flashbacks were clearly meant to alleviate that canvas on page and on screen. (July 2016)

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